The Worst Way to Die

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How many of you have played this game on a long car trip where you asked the people around you what is the worst way to die? A version of this goes something like; would you rather drown in the ocean or be burnt alive in a building fire? Gruesome stuff I know, but I think all of us face our own mortality in different ways at different times of our lives. We hypothesize situations that we could find ourselves in that would bring about death as a way discussing our fears in the hopes of possibly looking the boogie-man in the face and laughing at him.

For me, dying of old age is not something I ever really consider and perhaps that is common to anyone who at my age should be more or less half a life away from that possibility, unless something tragic happens. Dying of old age or quietly slipping off to sleep and never waking for me seems to be a pleasant way to depart from this earth. It should go without saying that I hope I have a very long time left on this earth before that happens, but when it comes to subjects that we frequently discuss on the Prepper Journal, dying quietly in a peaceful bed doesn’t often raise to the top of the conversation. It is usually death by a mob, starving to death or succumbing to other evil in some way.

For a long time, I have viewed the possibility of dying through some lens of a disaster. This is the TEOTWAWKI version of that same game but with a more bleak and sinister twist thrown in. Would you rather die defending your home from marauders who bash your skull in with bats to get to all of your stored prepping supplies or die in the woods after you bug out, suffer a fall down a mountain that leaves you critically injured and a bear slowly eats you?

Thinking about death

I had a frequent contributor, Elizabeth ask me this question a while back:

“Why do you think it’s important for as many people as possible to be self-sufficient in the event any disaster occurs?”

I guess it depends on her context but I assume the question is to be taken on its face. I thought about this for a while because the answer seemed so obvious on one hand but it caused me to wonder if there wasn’t a deeper motivation as well. On the surface it seems simple, doesn’t it? I want as many people to be able to take care of themselves so that you aren’t reliant on anyone else (within reason) for your survival. By taking steps to get prepared for all manner of life’s surprises, individuals and families everywhere would be better able to provide for their own survival.

But if you take that a level deeper you have to say, what is survival? Are there different ways to survive? Does survival mean the same thing to everyone or is it simple a biological function where your body has what it needs to keep doing that miraculous thing it does? You have enough calories, water and shelter for your organs to keep doing what they are designed to do? Is survival all we should hope for?

Prisoners are surviving in jail aren’t they? I wouldn’t want that kind of life, but they have food, shelter and all of the things they need for their organs to function. Slaves are surviving too I guess, but I wouldn’t want to be a slave. Indentured servants, prostitutes, congressional pages…So I believe that being self-sufficient should be about more than simple survival. Maybe you are focused on survival in the short-term, but the longer goal should be a more full life. I won’t try to describe what that means for anyone else. Each of you likely has your own vision of a perfect life if we can ever achieve that. Instinctively you likely know your own measure of the difference between living and surviving.

For me being prepared has many facets. The first and easiest to achieve is that simple survival – the basics of life. Ensuring you have a way to obtain clean drinking water, food, shelter and security all check the box on the survival aspect, but assuming you are able to do all of these things, is that enough? Is all that you are preparing for distilled down to simple survival? Is there anything more we should be keeping in mind for ourselves and our families?

The worst way to die

For me the worst way to die is to fail my family in a way or ways that cause them to not be able to survive first of all, but to live a full life after the reason for survival has passed more importantly. Do I want to be able to provide food and clothing, shelter and security for them? Of course I do, but I don’t want to stop there. I focus on the survival aspect because in some ways that is the easier option to consider initially. It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to plan on ways to feed your family. The logistics all need to be worked out, but the usual path is with food. Duh!

Water, Shelter and even Security are pretty similar when you think about it too. Of course even the most prepared individual isn’t an island unto themselves. You can have other forces come into your life to change or impact your preparations, but as far as what you can control; the survival basics seem to be just that. Basic.

The living part; what you do with your life after survival has been achieved, is what makes you smile. It is what gives you hope and a will to go on I think. Do you think you would be happy living in a FEMA camp even if you had three square meals a day, a roof over your head and relative safety? Would you feel content if your children were taken from you even though they were fed when you might not have been able to provide for them? Do you think you would be happy (living) hiding in the woods, wondering if every twig snapping was another person you would have to defend your life from?

I guess for me, I want the same things for all of the readers of my blog that I want for my own family. That is the ability, resources and motivation to be able to provide for our family’s survival so that once the danger has passed we can all live life again. We should strive for more than just existing because I think if that is your only measure of success you can fall into a trap. I draw some parallels to the analogy of trading freedom for security. We should strive for both on our own terms as much as possible. By prepping today we are positioning ourselves both to be able to react more quickly to situations we see approaching as well as coming through on the other side in better shape because of what we do now.

Prepping is about more than buying a bunch of supplies. It is a mindset that we have because we are thinking ahead to what the future could hold. Initially that future might bring chaos, disaster and sorrow but we as preppers have to think beyond the disaster. We have to plan for a life further down the road from the tragedy. We should be planning to survive so that we can life a full life again, not simply exist. The worst way for me to die is to fail at that mission for my family. What’s yours?

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Freedom-loving American doing what I can to help prepare and inform others. Editor and creator of The Prepper Journal 2013-2017, 2020 -

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Thomas Paine in the butt

I can only think of less bad ways to die. To quote the AF pararescue motto, “That others may live,” would probably be one of the least bad. When I meet St. Peter I want to come to the pearly gates sliding head first with my hair on fire saying “what a rush!” Not saying I went out as a reckless daredevil but I lived my life as opposed to just being alive. Pat, you touched on the difference between living and being alive. I’d take barely surviving in BFE with my new neighbors the Bigfoots over 3 hots and… Read more »

Pat Henry

Ditto Thomas! Thanks for reading.

Mike Lashewitz

Remembering past lives puts a different face on the subject. Whether it is drowning because the Nile changed course in the night or being murdered in the Vatican. There should be no fear and pain is only temporary. Dying seared under a hot sun or being crushed in a drawbrigdge it is still a passing.
The best way is to be surrounded by family all smiling and well wishing. The worst? Being slowly dissolved in some creatures stomach while drowning. That was interesting.

Ca. Girl - LOVE THE USA !

past lives as in ours, I was told this is my last incarnation, I’ve done well helping others and a few weeks ago I said NO more, I see more people are takers and I’ve had it, I will worry about me and mine and get a read on anyone who wants to live as a team, all of us doing our part, and yes I agree, give me my Liberty OR give me death !

Mike Lashewitz

This is the last incarnation for many of us. We came to this world for this time in it’s existence. Now our work here is almost done. At least 15% of the spirit here will ascend and leave this world to head off to another. It is what we choose to do as wanderers also known to some as Rishi.

Lawrence Black

The worst way to die is to be the first to go among my family/loved ones, knowing they were going to be left to the “tender mercies” of whichever mob we were defending ourselves from, with me unable to prevent any of their pain.

Ideally, I’d like to believe my mindset would be such that, if I were the last man standing I’d pull an Ellis Wyatt and destroy what they wanted to take on my way out.

Ca. Girl - LOVE THE USA !

yes I would hate to be the first of my loved ones, thinking they where left unprotected by me, I agree ! then again if I had to watch my family members die, I can’t even imagine, Just bug out folks, even if you get word and have to bug out on a few false alarms, visit your bug out site, and tucked away you should do fine, have those ham radios and know whats going on out in the world so you can eventually return to life and reclaim it after all the chaos. GOD BLESS YOU ALL

Pat Henry

I have similar thoughts Lawrence. It prompts me to teach my family as much as I can – that they are ready to hear but even then I think that of most of them I will only be watching for the signals. Not that I am a mystic or anything, but most of my family is still pretty unimpressed by the current events in the world.

Lawrence Black

Same here. I’m trying to accumulate food storage for 4 (maybe 5) in the face of skepticism about the need. Believe me, I sincerely hope I’ll be eating my vacuum-packed provisions when I’m 75, taking a good natured ribbing about my “excentricity”.

My worst way scenario concerned being “bugged in” and defensive. You already covered the fear of failing to prepare sufficiently to provide for my family, so I took the “2nd worst” option.


The worst would definitely be failing my family. “That others may live” is a great approach. Sacrifice is one thing. Knowing you did everything you could to keep your family happy and safe would be the best. Well, I guess giving up and letting whatever comes to you and your family would probably be the worst.

Ca. Girl - LOVE THE USA !

Good article, yes for now I actually bring my mind into chaos and see it in a vision, I am a bit psychic and heave read people so I know I have that gift, and for the nay sayers, this is so real I can taste it. I just began my prepping, it just got real, yesterday ordered my semi auto.223 and Glock 19, and I have ordered flash lights that go on your head to keep hands free, next week, cases of water, protein bars, I”m looking for a tent trailer, this is either for after the STORM of… Read more »


Ca. Girl
Welcome to the informed.
Be well

Pat Henry

Thank you very much for your comments!


Yes I’m a prepper to the max, Yes I read all of the article and comments written here, Yes I agree about all of the family left behind stuff, and Yes I know first hand the worst way to watch your wife or anyone die…. And no I did not have to read the entire article/comments, I read the title and already knew…..

Pat Henry

I can only imagine you have first hand experience NRP. I never want to go through that myself.


Here is the tragic thing. And here is the hope. Credit for the quote is yet to be determined but, “the graveyards are full of indispensable people.” NRP: I have worked hospice. I have held hands until the moment of death. I know what the death rattle sounds like. That sound haunts me. I have planted gardens that send the prayer, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” while I cried more snot than I knew I was capable of producing. I know watching intractable pain. so yeah. I get it. It really is is the worst thing. To you: Please… Read more »


Fantastic article Pat. I am of the conviction that one survives in order to live, for oneself and others; even if it’s a long shot.

Pat Henry

Thank you very much Elizabeth for the inspiration.

Dave from San Antonio

Living in a FEMA camp. Nope. After a short while they will start “making” you work…it’s called “slave labor”, but “they” will “take care” of you… or so they say. You will work at whatever they tell you and as long as they tell you, but look on the bright side…you’ll have “three hots and a cot”…”maybe”…but you “will” work for the elites and do what they tell you. If not…it’s “or else”…and ‘examples’ will be made…and their bodies probably left on display as a warning. Death and dying is never a “good” subject, but it does need to be… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks Dave, I am right there with you on the prospect of any form of government assistance in our future that is less than optional.

Dave from San Antonio

Anytime you rely on “gov’t. assistance” for day-to-day living…you place yourself under the ‘slave-master’s” thumb…or ‘jack-boot’…in this case, our gov’t. People just don’t understand…when the gov’t. “assists” you and gives you…other people’s hard earned money on a continual basis…the gov’t “owns” you and if you fuss about it…they take all their “assistance” away as punishment. An example are the federal funds that go into “public education”…if a school system doesn’t want the “gov’t. approved indoctrination”…the funds are withdrawn…again, as a form of punishment.

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